Madrigal & Chamber Choir Festival

2019 Dates


February 22 & 23, University United Methodist Church


American Classic Tours and Music Festivals invites you to our flagship music festival in our home town of San Antonio. Experience the exceptional singing, camaraderie, competition and clinics which are the hallmark of American Classic’s premier choral festival.


Participants compete for first place and the designation of Honor Choir for the following year’s festival. A three judge panel will evaluate each performance and provide both ratings and written comments. The adjudicators will also rank each choir’s performance in order to designate first place and first, second and third runner up. The judging panel will provide additional recognition with the “Performance of Distinction” award for notable performances.

Concert and Awards

The Honor Choir Concert is presented Saturday evening by the previous year’s first place winner at the conclusion of the competition and clinics. An awards ceremony follows the concert, where trophies are awarded to ensembles earning a superior rating. Additional awards are presented to the first place winner, first, second and third runners up and performances of distinction.

2018 Adjudicators and Clinicians


Dianne Brumley is Director of Choral Music Studies and Professor of Music Education, Emerita at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley – Brownsville. She was appointed in 2003 and was the first person to hold the position of Director of Choral Studies at the University. Brumley was the founding conductor of the University Master Chorale. During her ten-year tenure at UTRGV, the Master Chorale was selected to perform at the 2011 Texas Music Educators Association Convention and toured internationally. Brumley also served for 20 years as the founding Conductor and Artistic Director of the South Texas Chorale and Orchestra.

Brumley is a frequent guest conductor, clinician, motivational speaker and adjudicator throughout Texas and the United States. Currently, she serves as a choral music education consultant. Before her time with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Brumley was a successful choral music educator in public schools. Choirs under her direction were selected for honor performances at Texas Music Educators Association conventions, American Choral Directors Association regional and national conventions and a featured performance at the Texas Choral Directors Association convention.

Active in Texas choral music endeavors for many years, in 2011 Brumley was honored to receive the Texas Choral Excellence Award from the Texas Choral Directors Association.

Karen Kenaston-French is Associate Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Texas Arlington, where she conducts the A Cappella Choir, teaches graduate and undergraduate conducting, and heads the Vocal Area. Under her direction the UTA A Cappella Choir has performed at the Texas Music Educators Association state convention (2014), has made three appearances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and was named a finalist in the 2014 American Prize for Choral Performance for its CD, “The Road Home.” In February 2015 the choir served as Ensemble-in-Residence for the National Student Conducting Competition at the American Choral Directors Association conference in Salt Lake City, and in March 2016 gave an invited performance at the Southwestern Division Conference of ACDA in Kansas City. Prior to her arrival at UTA, Dr. Kenaston-French served as Director of Choral Activities at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, taught conducting at Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas, and was director of music ministries at Plymouth Park United Methodist Church in Irving, Texas. She holds a B.A. from West Virginia Wesleyan College, M.M. and M.S.M. degrees from Southern Methodist University, and a D.M.A. from the University of North Texas. In 2011 she was a conductor for the Choral/Orchestral Master Class of the Oregon Bach Festival, under Helmut Rilling and Jeffrey Kahane.

Dr. Joshua Oppenheim serves as Associate Professor of Music and Co-Director of Choral Studies at Kansas State University. Prior to that, he was on faculty at the Crane School of Music in New York. He received his B.M. from Western Michigan University, his M.M. at the University of Mississippi, and his D.M.A. in Choral Conducting at the University of North Texas.

His choirs have performed by invitation at the New York State School Music Association Conference (Men’s Choir 2007) the Kansas Music Educators Association Conference (Concert Choir 2009, Men’s Choir 2012) the American Choral Directors Association Southwestern Conference (Concert Choir 2012, In•A•Chord 2015) National A cappella Conference (In•A•Chord 2015) and the National Collegiate Choral Organization (Men’s Choir 2013).

He has done additional study and been engaged as guest conductor and clinician in Carnegie Hall (2014, 2015) Cambridge, United Kingdom; Milan, Italy; Singapore, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He has presented sessions and conducted honor choirs in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, as well as the Western and Southwestern ACDA conferences.


John Dickson is the Edward G. and Catherine M. Galante Chair for Choral Music Education at Louisiana State University’s School of Music. As Director of Choral Studies, he conducts the A Cappella Choir and supervises the masters and doctoral programs in choral conducting. Outside of academia, he is the conductor of Coro Vocati, one of Atlanta’s most accomplished professional chamber choirs.

As a conducting pedagogue, Dr. Dickson has presented master-classes before the Association of British Choral Directors and the Russian State Music Conservatories of St. Petersburg and Moscow. He has conducted festivals and workshops in England, Wales, Scotland, Finland, France, and Canada. For three decades, his choirs have been featured at state, regional, and national ACDA conventions, and he has conducted All-State choruses and workshops throughout the U. S.

Appointed as a Visiting Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge University in 1992, Dr. Dickson sang with Sir David Willcocks and The Bach Choir; a second post-doctoral fellowship in 1998 allowed him to serve as David Hill’s assistant conductor. He is the Founding Director of the C. S. Lewis Choral Institute, featuring a professional chorus for its triennial symposium in Oxford and Cambridge.

Allen Hightower is the Director of Choral Studies at the University of North Texas. At UNT, Allen serves as conductor of the A Cappella Choir and the Grand Chorus, and oversees a comprehensive choral program that includes seven choral ensembles. Dr. Hightower leads the master’s and doctoral programs in choral conducting.

Prior to his appointment at UNT, Dr. Hightower was the first holder of the Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music, at Luther College, where he served as conductor of the renowned Nordic Choir and Artistic Director of Christmas at Luther. As Luther’s Director of Choral Activities, he gave leadership to a choral program that included four conductors, six choirs, and over 530 singers.

From 2000-2010, Dr. Hightower served as Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Sam Houston State University. During his tenure, the SHSU Chorale performed for the 2007 National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association, the 2010 Southwestern Division of ACDA, and the 2003, 2006, and 2010 conventions of the Texas Music Educators Association. From 1992-1996 he was Director of Choirs at Odessa Permian High School, and led the PHS Kantorei and Chamber Orchestra in performance at the 1996 Texas Music Educators Association convention.

Dr. Julie Yu is Co-Director of Choral Studies at Kansas State University where she is part of a team that oversees eight choral ensembles and teaches undergraduate and graduate choral conducting.  Dr. Yu holds a Bachelor of Music degree in music education from the University of Central Oklahoma, Master of Music degree in choral conducting from Oklahoma State University, and the Doctorate of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from the University of North Texas.

Before joining the Kansas State faculty, Dr. Yu taught at Norman North High School in Norman, Oklahoma and San José State University.

She has conducted honor choirs in Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Germany.  She has given presentations and her choirs have performed for the Kansas Music Educators Association, Missouri Music Educators Association, Oklahoma Choral Directors Association, the American Choral Directors Association and the European Music Educators Association Conventions.  She is the Southwest American Choral Directors Association President Elect designate and a National Board Member of the National Collegiate Choral Organization.  She also serves as Artistic Director of the Flint Hills Masterworks Chorale and the Vice President of the Flint Hills Children’s Choir.

2019 Adjudicators and Clinicians


Dr. David Means is Director of Choral Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg, TX, the conductor of the Valley Symphony Chorale, and recently founded Rio Grande Valley’s premier professional chamber choir, the Valley Choral Artists. Dr. Means came to south Texas from Austin where he was Head Choral Director of the Grammy Award winning Fine Arts Academy of Westwood High School. Means has also taught at the University of Southern California, Christopher Newport University, Hill College and has more than twenty years’ experience successfully teaching public school choirs in Texas and California.

He is active as a guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician, having taught, judged and performed across Texas, the United States, Europe, Mexico, Canada and Japan. In addition to TMEA and UIL adjudication, he also regularly leads workshops for music teachers and conducts workshops for singers. Recently he served on the prestigious jury of the Preveza International Choral Festival in Preveza, Greece, and has presented sessions for the Hawaii ACDA chapter and was a featured clinician for TCDA 2017. This is his second opportunity to adjudicate the American Classic Madrigal Festival. Means earned degrees from Howard Payne University, Baylor University and the University of Southern California.

Richard Robbins is Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he conducts the University Singers and Chamber Singers, and teaches choral conducting and methods. Dr. Robbins travels extensively as a conductor for choral festivals and honor choirs across the country, with recent engagements in Miami, Los Angeles, Orlando, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City. His early music editions are published internationally, and he has presented on a range of topics for music education and conducting organizations, including the American Choral Directors Association, and internationally at Warsaw’s Chopin Conservatory of Music (Poland). Dr. Robbins has prepared choirs for the Houston Ballet and for over 50 performances with the Houston Symphony. Currently, he is the Chorus Master for the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Choral groups under Dr. Robbins’ direction have earned awards at numerous festivals, and have collaborated with a wide range of classical and pop artists.He previously served as Director of Choral Activities at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and taught choral music in Texas at South Houston High School and Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where he was named Teacher of the Year. He also serves as a festival conductor for the American Federation Pueri Cantores, the Vatican’s youth music organization.

Brian A. Schmidt is Associate Professor of Choral Music at Baylor University and conductor of the Baylor A Cappella Choir and Chamber Singers. He teaches graduate choral conducting and literature courses and guides graduate conducting recitals. Schmidt is also the Grammy® nominated founder and Artistic Director of the South Dakota Chorale, a professional choir based in Sioux Falls, SD and has grown the ensemble’s artistic presence through commercial recordings and the signing of an international recording contract in 2014 with PENTATONE, a Dutch classical label.

Previously Schmidt served at Duke University Chapel where he conducted the Duke Vespers Ensemble and founded several new ventures including the monthly Bach Cantata Series and Cappella Baroque (a professional period-instrument orchestra) along with publishing recordings on the MSR Classics label. He is a frequent guest conductor and his choirs have appeared on Division and National ACDA Conferences and Boston Early Music Festival. He was selected by ACDA to represent America in the International Conductor Exchange Program with Sweden, resulting in study and guest conducting opportunities in Sweden during the fall of 2015.

Schmidt graduated from the University of North Texas, where he completed MM and DMA degrees under Jerry McCoy and Richard Sparks, along with early music studies under Lyle Nordstrom and Lenora McCroskey.


Dr. Eduardo García-Novelli, is Director of Choral Activities and Chair, Music Department, Carthage College, Kenosha, WI. , also Artistic Director of Master Singers of Milwaukee. Born in Argentina, Eduardo served 8 years as Choir Director at Belgrano Day School in Buenos Aires, and as Assistant Conductor of the National Youth Choir. Former Assistant Director, Houston Symphony Chorus, and Director, Symphony of Southeast Texas Chorus. Received the Faculty Merit Award for distinguished teaching as Director of Choral Activities, Lamar University, Beaumont, TX.

Two undergraduate degrees from state conservatories in Argentina. MM: Westminster Choir College, Princeton, NJ. DMA: University of Houston, TX. His choirs performed at TMEA, WMEA, WCDA, NCCO National Conference, and the International Choral Festival in Panama City, Panama. Several National, European and South American tours. In 2016 he was in residence at the Academy of Music in Ljubljana, Slovenia, lecturing and conducting the award-winning AVE Chamber Choir. Also in 2016 he conducted Mozart’s Missa brevis in F K 192 at the historical Peterskirche in Vienna. Last March he returned to Carnegie Hall to conduct Mozart’s Coronation Mass with the New England Symphonic Ensemble and festival choir. Last summer he was in residence in Buenos Aires with the National Young People Choir performing an all-American repertoire. He just returned from a highly successful tour through Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy.

Z. Randall Stroope is an American conductor, composer. He is also the Doug and Nickie Burns Chair of Choral Music at Oklahoma State University, where he coordinates the vocal and choral conducting program. In the United States, he has conducted at most of the major concert halls, including Chicago Orchestra Hall, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Carnegie Hall (where he has conducted every year since 2001). He has conducted 45 all-state choirs, and numerous festival choirs in the United States. Internationally, Randall has directed in Hong Kong, Barcelona, Nova Scotia, Dublin and and Rome in the past year. He has 165 published musical works, including Four Spanish Sonnets of Garcilaso de la Vega, Conversion of Saul, Amor de mi alma, Christi Mutter (Stabat Mater), and Go Lovely Rose. His composition teachers were Normand Lockwood and Cecil Effinger, both students of Nadia Boulanger, the famous French teacher (and student of Gabriel Fauré.) In the final analysis, Randall loves working with students and making a difference – that is the greatest contribution.

Dr. Betsy Cook Weber is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music and is also active internationally as a conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer. Weber also serves as Director of the Houston Symphony Chorus. In that role, she prepares choral-orchestral masterworks for some of the world’s greatest conductors. HSC recently concluded performances with the Prague Symphony Orchestra and the Litomysl Festival Orchestra in the Czech Republic.

Choirs under Weber’s direction have been featured at multiple state (TMEA 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2017) and national conventions (ACDA 2007 and 2017 and NCCO 2017). Internationally, Weber has led choirs to top prizes at prestigious competitions in Wales, France and Germany.

Weber routinely prepares singers for Houston’s early music orchestras Ars Lyrica and Mercury Houston, as well as preparing singers for touring shows, including Josh Groban, NBC’s Clash of the Choirs, Telemundo’s Latin Grammy’s, Star Wars in Concert, Andreas Bocelli, and Harry Potter.

In 2013, Weber became the 1st woman to receive TCDA’s Texas Choirmaster Award. She is editor of the Betsy Cook Weber choral series with Alliance Music Publishing

Before coming to the University of Houston, Weber taught vocal music, K-12, in the public schools. She holds degrees from the University of North Texas, Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ), and the University of Houston.


Past Results

2018 Madrigal Results

First Place and 2019 Honor Choir

The Woodlands Chamber Choir

Patrick Newcomb, Director

First Runner Up

Midway Chambers Singers

Jeff Rice, Director

Second Runner Up

Vandergrift Chamber Choir

Michael Zook, Director

Third Runner Up

Kingwood Madrigals

Jason Watt, Director

Performances of Distinction

Arlington High School, Mason Barlow, Director

Centennial Chamber Singers, Eric Cooley, Director

Conroe Cantare, Clay West, Director

Cy Fair Singers, Nicholas Likos, Director

Cypress Ranch Chamber Choir, Cynthia Douglas/Adam Bishea, Directors

Cypress Woods Chamber Choir, Jason Womack, Director

Garland Celebration Singers, Cheryl Wilson, Director

Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Madrigal Singers, Shannon Carter, Director

J.J. Pearce Forte, Michael Lysinger, Director

Langham Creek Chamber Singers, Christopher Fiorini, Director

Montgomery Madrigals, Heather Orr, Director

Pearland Kantorei, Michael Kessler, Director

Seven Lakes Chamber Singers, Emily Chandler, Director

Taylor Expressions, Kevin Riehle, Director


Diane Brumley, Emerita, University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley – Brownsville

Karen Kenaston – French, University of Texas Arlington

Joshua Oppenheim, Kansas State University


John Dickson, Louisiana State University

Allen Hightower, University of North Texas

Julie Yu, Kansas State University


2017 Madrigal Results

First Place and 2018 Honor Choir

Reagan High School

Mary Cowart, Director

First Runner Up

Midway High School

Jeff Rice, Director

Second Runner Up

Langham Creek High School

Chris Fiorini, Director

Third Runner Up

Vandegrift High School

Michael Feris, Director

Performances of Distinction

Arlington High School, Mason Barlow, Director

Clear Brook High School, Jon Marcum, Director

Colleyville Heritage High School, Thomas Rinn, Director

Cypress Creek High School, Sharon Paul, Director

Garland High School, Cheryl Wilson, Director

Magnolia High School, Jennifer Franz-Melady, Director

Pearce High School, Michael Lysinger, Director

Pearland High School, Michael Kessler, Director

The Woodlands High School, Patrick Newcomb, Director

Vista Ridge High School, Steve White, Director


Pam Elrod, Southern Methodist University

David Means, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

John Silantien, University of Texas at San Antonio


Rick Bjella, Texas Tech University

Jonathan Reed, Michigan State University School of Music

Sandra Snow, Michigan State University


2016 Madrigal Results

First Place and 2017 Honor Choir

High School for Performing and Visual Arts

Shannon Carter, Director

First Runner Up

Conroe High School

Clay West, Director

Second Runner Up

Garland High School

Cheryl Wilson, Director

Third Runner Up

Reagan High School

Mary Cowart, Director

Performances of Distinction

Arlington High School, Mason Barlow, Director

Clear Brook High School, Jon Marcum, Director

Colleyville Heritage High School, Thomas Rinn, Director

Cypress Creek High School, Sharon Paul, Director

Flower Mound High School, Mark Rohwer, Director

Jersey Village High School, Neena Taylor, Director

Langham Creek High School, Christopher Fiorini, Director

Magnolia High School, Jennifer Franz-Melady, Director

Midway High School, Jeff Rice, Director

Taylor High School, Kevin Riehle, Director

The Woodlands High School, Patrick Newcomb, Director

Vandegrift High School, Michael Feris, Director

Vista Ridge High School, Steve White, Director


Randall Hooper, Texas A&M University

Cameron LaBarr, Missouri State University

Gary Mabry, University of Texas at San Antonio


Kenneth Davis, Conductor, Artist, Educator

John Ratledge, University of Alabama

Betsy Cook Weber, University of Houston Moores School of Music

2015 Madrigal Results

First Place and 2016 Honor Choir

Pearland Kantorei, Pearland ISD

Derrick Bready, Conductor


Dianne Brumley, University of Texas at Brownsville

Karen Kenaston-French, University of Texas Arlington

David Rayl, Michigan State University


John Dickson, Louisiana State University

Lynne Gackle, Baylor University

Eduardo Garcia-Novelli, Carthage College

 2014 Madrigal Results

First Place and 2015 Honor Choir

The Woodlands Chamber Choir, Conroe ISD
Bob Horton, Director


Jonathan Reed, Michigan State University
John Silantien, University of Texas at San Antonio
James Franklin, Sam Houston State University


Richard Bjella, Texas Tech University
Z. Randall Stroope, Oklahoma State University
Kenneth Davis, St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico